Walking on Myrtle Beach

Over the years Diane and I have walked a little on our trips and vow to continue doing so when we return home. For many reasons that never seems to have happened. Mainly, I think, it’s because it’s easier to sit in our comfy recliners instead of walking. It could be, also, that it was raining a lot. Yeah, that could be it. We don’t walk in the rain.

Today, however, we walked almost 4 miles on Myrtle Beach this afternoon and didn’t cramp up even one time. Although we didn’t discuss continuing our walks at home, I think it’s understood that we really should. If it’s not raining when we get home, we will walk for sure.

The thing about walking on Myrtle Beach is that the beach slopes pretty sharply toward the water and the flat part is all soft sand which is very difficult to walk in. Plus, Diane’s fitbit doesn’t give her any credit for the extra effort involved with walking in soft sand. It doesn’t give extra credit for the wear and tear on knees and hips due to the slope one must traverse on the north and south trek.

One thing Diane learned, because of that slope, is that her right leg is shorter than her left. That revelation is based on the fact that walking north (left leg on the up slope) hurt more than walking south (short leg on the up slope).

I may have a similar affliction because walking north I was always wandering off to my right, toward the water. Now, in addition to the possibility that I have a short right leg, it could have been caused by my distraction with the water as it recedes away to my right. It’s very disorienting and causes me to lose my balance. On the trip south, however, my tendency was still to wander off to my right as I walked. I guess I’m just totally out of whack. I was happy that Diane found the trip back less stressful on her joints. So, all of our walks from now on, while we’re here, will be south bound only while on the beach. On the way back we can take one of many surface streets. Although they’re level, Diane thinks if she walked with her right foot on the sidewalk and her left on the street it might even things out for her. We’re going to give that a shot tomorrow. Don’t know why we didn’t think of the a lot sooner. I’ll let you know how that goes. If I remember.

After returning from our walk Diane warmed up some soup for a simple lunch, then we took another walk to our rental car, which is parked in a facility about 1 block away. There is no parking at the hotel for anyone. They do have a valet service but all vehicles are parked in the same building. The difference is valet is $10 a day and self parking is free. For me it’s a no-brainer to opt for free.

Anyway, we got the car and drove approximately 1 more block where Diane parked equidistant between a barber shop and a Dollar General store. The barber shop was for me because I agreed with Diane that I needed a haircut. She wanted me to get it cut before our trip but I refused. Today was the time, so I agreed. The Dollar General store was for Diane for two reasons; 1) she loves cheap stores and 2) we needed more bottled water. We apparently needed another bottle of wine, some chips, fruit, place mats, a cheese grater, and some spices, too.

Diane got all the stuff she wanted and I got a pretty stellar haircut from a guy named Enoch. Best haircut I’ve had in years.

Now, here are some photos that commemorate the day …

We moved up to the soft sand on the way north to sit a bit and drink water.
This is us resting.
Heading back south to one of those buildings. Diane went on ahead to blaze a trail
Back on our 17th floor balcony

After a bit of resting we went to the activity center to paint a picture. This was Diane’s first try at painting with acrylics and she did awesome. Now she wants to do it some more.

Diane’s
Mine

Happy Columbus Day

Today in Myrtle Beach we had a brief scare in the morning. There was evidence that it rained during the night because the railings on our balcony were dripping wet and there were dark angry clouds covered the sky, hiding the sun. It made one wonder what the day held in store for us.

Turns out there was a sunny day hiding from us. It finally made its appearance late in the morning when we were at Wal*Mart obtaining provisions that are to sustain us for the remainder of the week. We hope. If the weather turns nasty, like we’re told it will tomorrow night. We’re talking thunderstorms by midnight. But, that leaves the entire day open for opportunity. We’ve already decided that we’re going to walk 5,000 steps north on the beach then turn around and return to our room to cook something. Maybe we’ll have a tuna sandwich.

That’s what’s left. We ate the steak this afternoon.

I think there’re a couple cans of soup, too. And crackers and cheese. We’ll make it stretch to the weekend.

Shopping at Wal*Mart wore us out. That’s why we ate the steak when we got back to the condo. Then it was touch and go for a bit while we contemplated the benefits of a nap over actually doing something.

We determined that it wasn’t the right time for a nap so we went outside and sat on the beach for a while. Diane spied an umbrella with two empty beach chairs under it so we headed for them. When we got there the “For Rent” sign on one of the chairs was a little upsetting because I didn’t think we would be comfortable in one chair so I let Diane sit while I wandered around on the beach and took a couple of photos.

Now the truth – the For Rent sign on the chair indicated we should see the lifeguard. Looking around there wasn’t a lifeguard in sight so we sat down and enjoyed the view, the breeze, and the silence for just a moment before a lifeguard showed up as if he was waiting for someone to sit down.

I asked him what the deal was with renting and learned that the two chairs and umbrella cost $35 for the day, from 9am to 4:30pm. He added that since it was 4:30 it was OK if we just sat there till 5pm and he’d only charge us $5. Apparently $20 is the suggested price. I forked over a $5 and we just sat there enjoying the warm breeze and the sound of the ocean. For some reason the Atlantic Ocean sounds different than the Pacific Ocean. I think it’s because the Atlantic is quiet. The Pacific is much noisier as the waves crash with with more energy. However, if that were the case, you’d think the Pacific would be warmer from the friction of the crashing, but I guess it doesn’t work that way. The Atlantic is warm and quiet here.

We returned to our assigned perch on the 17th floor and nibbled on stuff until it got dark and the moon came out. It’s a full one today and we weren’t sure we’d be able to see it this evening. But, we did see it and it was wonderful.

The Original Benjamin’s Calabash Seafood and the Alabama Theater

Today (Friday) we ate quite well. Not that we haven’t eaten well on previous days lately, but today we ate exceptionally well. The Sea Mist Oceanfront Resort, where we currently reside, had a package for all of us old USS Cleveland sailors that included tickets to eat at The Original Benjamin’s Calabash Seafood buffet. The web site shows the innards better than I can but here’s a quick peek at some of our group chowing down in our own private section of the facility.


Pretty much any kind of seafood you desire, especially shrimp, is presented in many different ways. Pretty amazing. Calabash, by the way, is a word that describes food in this way: Calabash seafood typically refer to seafood that is lightly breaded (usually dipped in milk & then a combo of flour & cornmeal) and then fried. Usually in a calabash-style restaurant you will get huge portions, oftentimes with a combination plate of several types of seafood – shrimp, various kinds of fish, crab, oysters, etc.. and hushpuppies. Calabash is also the name of a small town in North Carolina near the southern border north of Myrtle Beach. Driving on Myrtle Beach one is assaulted with all manner of calabash restaurants. It gets a bit confusing after a bit. Just remember, it’s all good. I’m happy to report, too, that none of it caused my blood sugar to spike. I think another reason it was OK is that Diane was very careful about what I ate. She takes really good care of me.

I would have liked to stay a little longer at the buffet but we had to leave in order to make it to the Alabama Theater before 7 pm to see ONE The Show. It was truly a great show and is highly recommended by all of us who attended.

We weren’t allowed to take photos of the show so this is the only picture I got of the inside. It’s special because it has Diane in it.

The host of the show, Greg Rowles, who won Ed McMahon’s Star Search Show as the Best Male Vocalist 25 years ago, honored all of us USS Cleveland sailors and even provided a lot of the ship’s history. Pretty special evening.

After the show we all headed back to the Sea Mist for our last night at that facility. After breakfast Sunday morning we packed up and drove all the way north to Hilton’s Ocean 22 high rise. It took 11 minutes. We fiddled around a while, driving north to an enormous RV park, with a very small dune that one must traverse to access the beach. It looks like a place we should visit.

From the looks of things, fishing off the beach is a requirement.

See you tomorrow …

Myrtle Beach, SC

Yes, we’ve embarked on another journey. Some of you may be thinking that, considering the sad time we had in Maui recently, we would have given this trip a little more consideration before committing. But, we’ve actually been trying to get some time at Myrtle Beach for the last five years or so but something always comes up that messes it up. Mostly the deterrents come in the form of hurricanes this time of year.

This time, we made it all the way. Here’s proof …

OK, yes it’s the baggage carousel at the Charleston airport, but that’s the airport we flew to and rented the car that got us to Myrtle Beach. Another reason we flew to Charleston was so we could reconnect with our luggage which got there 8 hours before us.

Here’s what happened – there are no non-stop Alaska flights from Portland to Charleston, but there is one from Seattle. So, all we had to do was get to Seattle early enough to make the connection so that we could arrive on the east coast at a decent time of the day. The reservations she got allowed us almost an hour to get to the connecting flight in Seattle that would arrive in Charleston at 4:30 pm their time. If you think about that for a minute, considering the 3-hour time difference, we would arrive at 1:30 pm St. Helens time. Then, figure in flight time from Seattle you can see we had to leave pretty early.

We got up at 3:30 am to catch the PDX to SEATAC leg that left at 6 am. The first snafu we encountered was when TSA kicked us out of the precheck line because out KTN wasn’t printed on our ticket. We knew that but had the letters from TSA as proof that we had KTNs. That’s Known Traveler Number in case you didn’t now. Not good enough for the ambitious little guy who insisted that it had to be on our boarding pass. The first time this happened, on the way to Maui, the TSA agent would have let us continue if we knew the KTN. Not this guy, however.

So, we returned to the ticket counter and fixed it with some manual interventional assistance of a cheerful Alaska Agent.

We breezed right through.

Got to Seattle in plenty of time to make our connection then ‘things’ kinda went south with regard to customer service and scheduling accumen of managers at the SEATAC International airport who parked our plane on the runway for 30 minutes because there wasn’t an open gate for us.

There we sat, with 12 other folks who needed to make the connection, watching the clock tick away, diminishing the probability of making the flight to Charleston.

We finally parked at N15 about 7:20 pm and our connecting flight was scheduled to depart at 7:45. Our pilot and crew assured us that everyone knew we were on the ground and the reason we were late and that they would hold the plane for us.

It was a huge lie. We got to the next gate, D21, in time, but management had already filled our 12 seats with standbys and sent the plane on it’s way, 20 minutes early. Kinda makes your day, ya know?

Then we were sent to the Alaska Customer Service desk near gate D2 that is manned by folks who are accustom to dealing with upset people and apparently don’t see the need to be friendly any longer. We 12 were demoted to 3rd class citizens (whatever that is) and the fact that we missed the flight due to decisions made by the airline.

The two agents behind the counter were working to re-book flights for misplaced people but their hearts weren’t in it and they weren’t very careful about information they doled out. For us, for instance, after they professed to have got us seats on an American Airline plane leaving shortly, gave us a confirmation number and sent us to gate D8 and told us to talk to one of the AA agents there to get us seat assignments. We made that trek and learned that the confirmation was invalid and that the flight we were supposedly put on was full. No seats available.

Back to D2 and customer service. At different agent made another attempt and actually got us seats on a plane leaving in a few hours for Dallas. From there we were booked on an AA flight to Charleston which was to arrive at 11:30 pm.

Interestingly, our bags were transferred from the Portland flight to the original non-stop connection with no problem, but they couldn’t delay 10 minutes to wait for the people who owned them. That’s why our luggage arrived in Charleston on time.

And, they didn’t have any trouble delaying the newly acquired flight, for some reason, which pushed our arrival time in Dallas a little later yet. That was OK because we had a 2-hour layover in Dallas.

Once in Dallas the flight to Charleston was delayed twice ensuring our arrival time wa pushed beyond midnight. Yippee!

By this time both Diane and I were to the point that we could see humor in all the things that had happened to us during this trip. It was like a comedy of errors so it was easier on both of us to accept the comedy of the situation instead of being bitter and upset.

Now, the good part of all this. On both of the flights we met passengers who went out of their way to accommodate both Diane and I by switching seats so we could sit together. You see, with all this switching going on, we were considered standby passengers with no real guarantee we’d get on an airplane. Because of that, we were placed in seats that were rows apart because, you see, all those other passengers made their flight on time.

Our fellow passengers made it all OK and we had a great time talking with them. Had we caught our original flight we would have missed that opportunity which would have been kinda sad.

When we got to Charleston we sent directly to the AA office in the baggage claim area to retrieve our on-time bags. The cheerful agent said, “oh, you were on that Alaska flight …” which kinda told the entire story.

After getting the bags we went looking for a cab because I was told the car rental agents closed up at 11:0-0 pm. But, we saw some lights on at the rental area and saw people turning in to that area. There was hope, after all. You see, we had a car reserved for the trip so we could get to the Air Force Inn at Joint Base Charleston for the night, then drive to Myrtle Beach in the morning.

When we turned the corner and saw lines of people at pretty much all the various rental agencies, and way off in a corner was Enterprise, with one agent working and a line of 2 people ahead of us. It was a miracle.

Long story short, we got a car and made it to Joint Base Charleston with no problem. It was only about 5 miles away, so we didn’t expect problems.

At the Air Force Inn we had a reservation and the agents were waiting for us. We got our room, spent the night, and took off for Myrtle Beach earlier this morning. We fudged our check out time beyond 11:00 am because it was so late when we checked in (1:30 am or so) and stopped at a really busy restaurant for lunch. It was the Long Point Grill in Mount Pleasant, SC for lunch. It was absolutely wonderful and the place was jumping. I had shrimp and linguine. Diane had a chicken BLT sandwich and a cup of tomato and artichoke soup. It as good, but getting it meant she could only eat half her sandwich. So, of course, I ate the other half.

The drive to Myrtle Beach was very relaxing and it was great sailing along without a care, our worries behind us. Life was good.

Now we’re here on the 9th floor, at 1200 S. Ocean Blvd with an ocean view.

Our view north
Our view south.

How sweet it is.

Oh ya, the reason we’re here is to attend the 22nd annual reunion of the USS Cleveland Reunion Association. So, there will be more news later.

Cheers.

The Maui Wedding & Other Stuff

The deed is done and this is just the wrap up of an event that’s been in the planning stages for years. As Sarah would say, she got “Mauied”.

To begin this day of joy and change Diane took a trip to the University of Hawaii Maui campus. That’s where the Maui Swap meet is held. The reason for our trip there was to obtain some outer wear for some little people we know back in Oregon. That, and to look around a bit. One thing I noticed right away was that prices were a bit steep for a swap meet. Hats, for instance. One gentleman had hundreds of them stacked neatly on many tables and his price for a baseball hat was $28! That’s not a swap meet price. I didn’t want a baseball hat anyway. The items Diane found were much more reasonable.

While in the vicinity, we took an moment to capture a selfie to show Jeran that Corban University is being promoted everywhere we go.

Here’s Diane hard at work.

Now for the wedding.

The service was held outside at the Sugar Beach Event Center.

Only 40 chairs
Beautiful backdrop

Diane shedding her pre-wedding jitters
Same for Ruth
Sarah and Dad Larry begin the march
They arrived safely
It was a flawless handoff
Rings were exchanged
The final blessing were given
Then “The Kiss”
I think she’s happy
Now it’s reception time
Grandma Ruth
Great Aunt Diane

I went through the line twice – once with Ruth and again with Diane. Lucky me.

Ruth and Larry
Larry and Diane

After the reception line it was into the hall for the reception dinner, after all the photos were taken. Right about this time Diane became ill and had to leave but she insisted I had to stay and eat. I did that then she came back to get me after the crowd began to get rowdy, like young crowds tend to do. They were having a terrific time and I was worried about Diane so it was all OK.

Diane was pretty sick and we spent all of Sunday inside – Diane rested and I stayed quiet like a mouse.

Now we’re going to take it real easy until our flight Wednesday morning. Maybe we’ll find an opportunity to visit Goodwill, but that remains to be seen.

A Wedding in Kihei, Maui

Yes, we came to Maui to attend a wedding for Jason and Sarah. For those who don’t know the family history, Sarah is our Grand Niece who was originally from Connecticut. Then she discovered Jason and moved west, to Hillsboro, to be with him. Then they got married the day before yesterday (the 21st). I believe that was the last day of summer in most parts of the world.

That’s the happy couple. In case you ever wind up in St. Vincent’s Hospital you’re in good hands. Sarah’s an RN and that’s where she works, and she works a lot.

The road to Maui was, I’m told, a year-long planning event for Sarah and Jason, Sarah mostly. Seems like I heard Jason mention something about finally being able to relax, not having to write any more checks, once the event was over so suspect he wasn’t as involved in the planning as was Sarah. I won’t dwell on the planning because I really have no firsthand knowledge of those efforts beyond what we experienced on the receiving end.

We arrived on Maui last Wednesday, the 18th, mid afternoon. Joined a bunch of people at the Budget Car Rental kiosk, got a Jeep Grand Cherokee, and headed for Kihei. It’s a simple drive south from the airport about 15 miles or so. That’s actually all the way across the isthmus between the two volcanoes that make the island. I find it interesting that only the east volcano has a name – Haleakala. The western volcano is only labeled “volcano” on the maps I’ve looked at. digging a little deeper in the narratives available, I found this:

The eastern volcano is Haleakala, a 10,000 foot shield volcano whose name means “House of the Sun”.   Haleakala’s elevation means that it sometimes – briefly – has snow on top in the winter.  The western part of the island is home to what geologists call Mauna Kahalawai, an eroded shield volcano commonly called the West Maui Mountains.  Hawaiians also refer to the West Maui Mountains as “hale mahina”, or “house of the moon”.

I’m so happy I could resolve that dilemma for everyone, whether or not you were concerned. I was, but no longer am.

On Thursday, the 19th, we joined the Connecticut contingent of the wedding party fora little shopping on Front Street in Lahaina. This is Ruth, our Sister-in-Law and grandmother of the bride, her son Larry, Father of the bride, Valerie, Step Mom of the bride, and Diane, Grand Aunt of the bride.

There were others from the east coast but these are the primaries. We had a good day and only lost Larry for a little while when he went back to the car for a camera battery,

After shopping we returned to Ruth’s (and Larry’s & Valerie’s) accommodations to await the appointed time for a group supper at the Aloha Mixed Plate. Excellent food!

On Friday, the 20th, we decided to see if the Road to Hana is really all that bad. I’m happy to report that, thanks to Diane’s excellent driving skills, and her willingness to embark on such an adventure, that road is pretty much everything you may have ever heard about it. We did it and we’ll never have to do it again.

Hana, Maui is located on the south eastern part of Maui and is accessible only by air, boat, or a grueling drive on Highways 36, 360, and 31. It’s actually the same road all the way around Haleakala but some parts are considerably better than others. The Road to Hana is legendary and Diane got me the T-shirt to prove it:

A great deal of the road is single lane, especially over the dozens of bridges. It’s an exciting drive and Diane did every inch of it. It was truly amazing.

With a stop 1/3 of the way to Hana on the east side, the trip took about 4 hours. It’s only about 52 miles (according to the T-shirt) so that means we had to go pretty slow most of the time. Neither of us is prone to car sickness but we both got a little nauseous before reaching Hana.

Our stop was at a botanical garden. They call it that be, in truth, the entire trip was like driving through a huge botanical garden. Very lush, green, and humid.

Here’s one flower you’ve all seen at one time or another. I’d include more, but you’ve probably seen them, too.

OK, here’s another one …

The next one I don’t think is a flower. It’s a pod of some sort hanging in a tree. Don’t know what it is but it’s pretty and got my attention.

Diane toughed out the remainder of the trip to Hana but I could tell she was getting tired. I would have driven but we never allow Jerrie to drive rental cars. Besides, as Diane said, if she hadn’t been driving she would have been puking her guts out. I guess that was a left-handed compliment to me because, though a bit nauseous, I never once puked. Believe me, there was plenty of opportunity to do so.

Finally, we reached our goal just as I was on my way down to a diabetic crash due to lack of food. We stopped at the first eatery we saw, the Ranch Restaurant, and took a seat. When the waitress, Natalie, arrived Diane asked for a glass of orange juice for me which she got very quickly. We both had very good hamburgers and drinks and it only cost $51. Considering our situation, it was well worth it and it helped me maintain a vertical position.

While eating we discussed the return trip. Should we go back the way we came, or continue on around the mountain. Neither of us could remember if the rental car agent had warned us off the southern portion of Route 31, and Natalie said ‘Pshaw. It’s not raining and it’s a beautiful drive.’ We believed her. Before leaving, however, we took advantage of their restrooms because we knew there were none on the road. It takes a code to get in the door so if you’re ever in Hana, at the Ranch Restaurant, remember this number:

You actually don’t need to remember it because they freely hand out little slips of paper like this to anyone who asks.

Not long into the return trip I was pretty sure we had tipped Natalie too much. The north eastern segment, though very curvy, was actually pretty good road. The south western portion was just as curvy but the road varied from asphalt to gravel to dirt to broken asphalt, continue. It was a mess. But, it was a pretty drive and we were generally going slow enough that we could see stuff.

We finally made it back to our condo in time to watch the sun go down behind Molokai.

On the way back to our condo …

… we encountered this drill team practicing for a parade …

When the sun was all gone we had this view from our porch …

We did nothing the rest of the day and went to bed very early. The next morning we were presented with this little snippet of a rainbow. Never seen one like it …

There will be more about this day in my next post. I’m tired now.

Aloha

Still Listening …

… to my bride. She pointed out that I failed to share vital information about grandchildren other than The Littles in my last post. I was actually aware of that omission at the time but was suffering from a severe case of something yet to be determined. As soon as I come up with a viable cause, I’ll certainly let you know. Right away.

Lydia and Cedric were the ones missing from my previous post. I guess I was too focused on The Littles. Lydia and Cedric are, after all, full grown adults now. Still, they are our children’s children and we love them, too.

It was Friday morning when Lydia drove into Big Eddy toting surprises in the form of Cedric and Ceiarra. Everyone knew that Cedric’s ship, the USS Nimitz (CVN-68), was in port at Bremerton, WA but didn’t expect him to be fetched for a visit this soon. Lydia drove up Thursday afternoon when she got off work and drove him back to St. Helens. After resting for the night they made the arduous 20 miles trip to Big Eddy to hang out with everyone. It was especially meaningful for Jennifer who commented the first day that this was the first Family Camp ever when they didn’t have kids with them. Then some kids showed up. It was great. Including Ceiarra was great, too.

Sadly, I was pretty lax about getting photos compared to what I used to do. Guess the finger I use to snap photos was worn out. Anyway, it was good to have Cedric and Ceiarra show up. The Littles were especially happy about it.

Cheers